La Monte Young    Marian Zazeela

Just Charles & Cello in The Romantic Chord*

in a setting of
Abstract #1*

Quadrilateral Phase Angle Traversals
Dream Light

for Charles Curtis, cello, pre-recorded cello drones
light design

Charles Curtis, cello  

Light production & video projection programming:   Uli Schägger
under the direction of Marian Zazeela

Computer processing and audio production:
Centre de Création Musicale Iannis Xenakis

*World Premiere 2003

Centre de Création Musicale Iannis Xenakis, Paris
Festival Nouvelles Scènes/Le Consortium, Dijon
Festival «Musiques en scène»/le GRAME, Lyon
Festival «Maerzmusik»/Berliner Festspiele, Berlin

Wednesday, 26 and Saturday, 29 November 2003, 7 pm
Musicologist Daniel Caux will lecture before the concert on 26 November

Théâtre Molière - Maison de la Poésie
Passage Molière, 157 rue Saint-Martin, 75003 Paris, Métro - Rambuteau

  Friday, 5 December 2003, 8 :30 pm
Théâtre du Parvis Saint Jean
rue Danton, 21000 Dijon

March 2004, Performances in Lyon & Berlin
Dates and venues to be announced

A new collaborative work by La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela for cello and light design will be given its world premiere in Paris in November and in Dijon in December.  The evening-long work, entitled Just Charles & Cello in The Romantic Chord in a setting of Abstract #1 from Quadrilateral Phase Angle Traversals with Dream Light, is composed for Charles Curtis, cello, pre-recorded cello drones and light design.  It will be performed by Curtis on November 26 and 29 at Theatre Moliere-Maison de la Poésie, 157 rue Saint-Martin, 75003 Paris at 7 pm, presented by the Centre for Création Musicale Iannis Xanakis (CCMIX).  Musicologist Daniel Caux will give a lecture preceding the performance on the 26th. 


Zazeela’s magenta and blue light design includes the projection of a calligraphic drawing programmed to gradually metamorphose in quadrilateral symmetry over the duration of the musical work.  Much of Zazeela’s work in light and calligraphy has been grounded in concepts of structural symmetry.  Abstract #1 from Quadrilateral Phase Angle Traversals is based on her Word Portraits series of drawings and neon sculptures in which she has presented names, words or ideas drawn with their bilaterally symmetrical, retrograde and mirror-inverted images, so that the abstract form of the written word may be viewed independently from its meaning.  This allows the visual content of the work to be considered both apart from, and along with, the significance of the word.  In Abstract #1, Zazeela turned this concept inside-out and created a pattern that is derived from and evocative of letter forms, but which does not generate known words.  The projection becomes a mandala-like visual focus interweaving through time with the performance of the musical work.  Uli Schaegger programmed the movement of the video projection and will oversee Zazeela’s lighting installations in Paris, Dijon and other venues. 


Along with Young’s new works for his Just Alap Raga Ensemble, Just Charles & Cello in The Romantic Chord represents his most recent composition.  Composed in Just Intonation, which Young defines as “that system of tuning in which every frequency is related to every other frequency as the numerator or denominator of some whole number fraction,” Just Charles & Cello in The Romantic Chord is set in the Dorian mode.  From the early ‘60s, the Dorian mode has been one of Young’s tonal resources, providing the basis for Young’s Dorian Blues in G, which eventually became the singular work performed by his Forever Bad Blues Band, and for The Romantic Chord, one of the major sections of his magnum opus, The Well-Tuned Piano. 


While the traditional tunings of the Dorian scale in just intonation are factorable by the primes 5, 3 and 2, Young’s tunings are unique in that the tuning for Young’s Dorian Blues in G is factorable by the primes 7, 5, 3 and 2, and the tuning for The Romantic Chord is factorable by 7, 3 and 2.  As the title suggests, Just Charles & Cello in The Romantic Chord is based on the tuning of The Romantic Chord from The Well-Tuned Piano.  Also in G, the Dorian mode of The Romantic Chord is based on the ascending Pythagorean series, C, G, D, A, E, with B-flat (the 3rd degree) and F (the 7th degree) derived septimally.  The C, G, D and A are all open strings on the cello, the Pythagorean E exists as a natural harmonic on both the D and A strings, and the B-flat and F exist as natural harmonics on the C and G strings respectively.  This congruence of pitches and strings delineates an inextricably inherent relationship between the tuning of the mode and the instrument. 

The new work was composed specifically for Charles Curtis, who has studied the performance technique with Young in the guru-disciple method of oral transmission over a period of years.  The work is not intended to be played by other cellists unless they study it with Young in the same way.  Curtis is perhaps the foremost performer of Young’s music in the world today.  He began to work with Young in 1987 when he performed in the Trio for Strings at the MELA 30-Year Retrospective Festival in New York.  Acknowledged internationally as a performer of new and experimental music, Curtis became director of Young’s Theatre of Eternal Music String Ensemble.  He has participated in more performances and premieres of Young's works than any other interpreter, including major performances at the Barbican Centre in London, the Darmstadt Festival, the Dia Art Foundation, New York, the Inventionen Festival, Berlin, the Cathedral of Dreams Festival, Krems, Austria, the Beyond the Pink Festival, Los Angeles, the Schleswig Holstein Music Festival, leading the Ensemble Modern strings for the Hessischer Rundfunk in Frankfurt, and with the Belgian ensemble Ictus in the Brugge 2002 Festival. 

Curtis is one of the few instrumentalists to have perfected Young's highly complex just intonation tunings, and is one of only a handful of musicians to have appeared in duo formations with Young, performing works by early minimalists Richard Maxfield and Terry Jennings.  In 1989, Curtis began learning the Kirana style of Indian classical music from Young through their performances together of the Terry Jennings Piece for Cello and Saxophone.  Curtis became a member of Young’s Just Alap Raga Ensemble in summer 2003 and performed with the group at the Ustad Hafizullah Khan Memorial concert and the Pandit Pran Nath 85th Birthday Tribute concert in the Church Street Dream House. 

Marian Zazeela is one of the first contemporary artists to use light as a medium of expression.  As artistic director of The Theatre of Eternal Music, she has created the works that form the visual components of Dream House, a sound and light work in which she has collaborated with La Monte Young since the early ‘60s.  In 1966, Young and Zazeela pioneered the concept of the continuous sound and light environment, and have since presented large-scale sound and light productions in museums and galleries worldwide for continuous periods from one week to one hundred days, including installations in the Metropolitan Museum, New York; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; documenta 5, Kassel; Kunstverein, Cologne.  Under a long-term commission from the Dia Art Foundation (1979-85), Zazeela and Young collaborated in a six-year continuous Dream House presentation set in a six-story building on Harrison Street in New York City, featuring multiple interrelated sound and light environments, exhibitions, performances, research and listening facilities, and archives.  MELA Foundation's Dream House: Seven+Eight Years of Sound and Light, now in its eleventh year, is Young and Zazeela's longest continuous installation to date. 

The French Cultural Ministry National Foundation of Contemporary Art (FNAC) purchased Young and Zazeela's 1990 Donguy Gallery, Paris exhibition for their permanent collection.  It was exhibited from February-April 1999 at the Lyon Museum of Contemporary Art.  For La Beauté international exhibition in Avignon celebrating the Year 2000, Young and Zazeela created a four-month Dream House in St. Joseph Chapel.  The installation featured the world premiere of the continuous DVD projection of the 1987 six-hour 24-minute performance of their collaborative masterwork, The Well-Tuned Piano in The Magenta Lights, in a site-specific light environment by Zazeela. 

Just Charles & Cello in The Romantic Chord in a setting of Abstract #1 from Quadrilateral Phase Angle Traversals with Dream Light was created under a commission from a consortium of the CCMIX and three other European organizations:  Nouvelles Scenes/Le Consortium, Dijon; Musiques en Scene/Le Grame, Lyon; and MaerzMusik/Berliner Festspiele, Berlin.  The commission was initiated by the CCMIX and its director, Gerard Pape. 


Utilizing pre-recorded cello samples played by Charles Curtis, the CCMIX has realized a live computer part to facilitate real time manipulation of the cello drones.  This program was written by Stefan Tiedje, musical assistant of the CCMIX, under the direction of La Monte Young and Charles Curtis, who was in residency at the CCMIX for the realization of the program.  The CCMIX is responsible for the sound production of the work for all of the world premiere performances in Europe, including the Paris concerts, the performance in Dijon on December 5 at Theatre du Parvis Saint Jean, in Lyon on March 17, 2004 at Les Subsistances, and in Berlin on March 21, 2004, at a venue to be announced. 


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